The Pavlov’s session continues: the anniversary of seven decades for psychology in Ukraine


  • Sergii Boltivets doctor of psychological sciences, professor, Head of Rehabilitation Programs of the Special Conditions Active Therapy Clinic, Head of the Ukrainian Hypnosis Society, co-editor and permanent author of the Psychology and Society journal, Kyiv. ORCID: 0000-0003-4432-5272 ResearcherID: U-3069-2018



teachings of I.P. Pavlov, restraint of scientists, accusations of scientists, development of psychology, violence in the USSR, hierarchy of power, aftereffects of decades, generalized fear, spiritual and intellectual flourishing


The article reveals the historical conditions, content and consequences of the “Scientific session on the problems of physiological teaching of Academician I.P. Pavlov” June 28 - July 4, 1950, which aimed to establish the leading role of the cerebral cortex with the subordination of all physiological processes reflected in the conditioned reflexes determined by IP Pavlov. But in reality, such a meaning was only the external plot of J.V. Stalin’s script, which consisted in taming scientists by means of harassing one of their groups on another. The roles of whistleblowers and accused of infidelity to the teachings of I.P. Pavlov were determined by J.V. Stalin in advance from among the students of the scientist, and his scientific authority was turned into a means of reproach and accusation. In fact, the main reports, speeches and discussions only seemingly proclaimed their relevance to the purpose of the stated topic – the problems of physiological teaching of Academician I.P. Pavlov. These problems were only a means of accusing a group of scientists, first of all the favorite and closest to I.P. Pavlov of his students in order to discredit them and further repression. The proclamation at the session of June 28 - July 4, 1950 of the actual cult of personality of Pavlov was actually a means of devaluing this doctrine, as it limited the further development of physiological, and with it psychological, genetic, medical knowledge in the former USSR. The psychiatric continuation was realized in a subsequent similar session entitled: “Physiological teachings of Academician I.P. Pavlov in psychiatry and neuropathology”, which lasted from 11 to 15 October of the following year, 1951. Both sessions were preceded by a session of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences named after V.I. Lenin (in the Russian original abbreviation “VASHNIL – All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences named after V.I. Lenin”) July 31 – 1948, which was the destruction of genetics. Thus, the development of genetics, physiology, psychology, and psychiatry was interrupted for several decades. Repressions included the defeat of fiction (Resolution of the Central Committee of the VKP (b) on the magazines “Zvezda” and “Leningrad”, August 1946), the defeat of musical culture (Resolution “On decadent tendencies in Soviet music” on February 10, 1948), the defeat of research history (September 1946, September 1949), the defeat of biology (session “VASHNIL” in 1948), the defeat of physiology (Pavlov’s session, 1950), another defeat of economists’ research (Stalin’s article “Economic problems of socialism in the USSR” ), the defeat of linguistics (Stalin’s article “Marxism and the problems of linguistics” in 1959), the defeat of chemistry (1951), the defeat of medicine (The case of the murderous doctors 1952 – 1953). The contrast of the way of thinking characteristic of the people of Russia is revealed, on the basis of which repressions and an unprecedented conviction in the morality of murder and other forms of violence in the USSR became possible. As a result, the purpose of the scientist and his life purpose is redirected to serve the highest levels of power instead of serving the truth and evaluated from the height of these higher levels, where the criterion of truth is a matter of personal preference of the ruler of the top floor of the pyramid. The ways of using IP Pavlov’s name at the session dedicated to his name, as well as I.P. Pavlov’s position in relation to the authorities and psychologists are given. The opposition of the work of I.P. Pavlov to the works of Z. Freud, T. Morgan and other scientists, which is not justified by the content and scientific spheres in which scientists worked, is revealed. The Ukrainian-Georgian direction of the Pavlov’s session, which was considered peripheral from the point of view of the Moscow speakers appointed by J.V. Stalin, is covered. Based on the principle of action of V.A. Romanets, the main consequences of the aftereffect of seven decades are presented. These include the incompleteness of the aftermath of the Pavlov’s session, which consists not only in the indefinite implementation of its resolution, but also the transmission from generation to generation of scholars of postcolonial countries that emerged after the collapse of the USSR, ways of thinking, organizing relationships and imitative behavior that cannot be explained modern trends in the scientific world of free countries. The mechanisms of the system of organization of scientific activity tested by Pavlovskaya and other sessions, which after the collapse of the USSR replace the dead institutions of control over scientists, are revealed. The conclusions state that Ukraine must free itself from the communist Stalinist legacy, and that Ukrainian psychologists play a leading role in this, as the psychological climate of all Ukrainian science needs to change. It is noted that the creation of conditions for the free scientific search of Ukrainian scientists of all specialties requires the elimination of generalized fear, inherited and actualized by the current apologists of Stalinist academism. This fear must be transformed into the joy of creating previously unknown knowledge for the spiritual and intellectual prosperity of the Ukrainian nation in the community of other nations of the world.


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How to Cite

Boltivets, Sergii. “The Pavlov’s Session Continues: The Anniversary of Seven Decades for Psychology in Ukraine”. Psyhology & Society, no. 1, July 2021, pp. 132-49,